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Snow and Ice
Climatology and Climate Changes

How fast does snow melt?


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June 24, 2014 5:13PM

Snow melts depending on two things, the temperature, obviously, but also on the humidity. First the temperature part. Snow is basically ice which needs energy (heat) to melt it. How fast it melts depends on the amount of snow, and its exposure due to surface area. 1 g of ice in a cube will take longer to melt than 1 g of snowflakes because the flakes have way more surface area, so more of them are exposed to the warmer air. 80cal/gram is the heat of fusion so you need at least 80 cal to melt 1 g of ice, or else it won't all melt.

Next the humidity part, ice can sublimate in dry conditions. Although this technically is a bypass of the melting step, it still disappears by evapourating directly from the solid state. It's slow, and it still requires energy, of course.